Commercial Properties

Commercial Properties Task Team

Objectives/Initiatives
2. Commercial/industrial property analysis and marketing
Analyze existing and available commercial/industrial sites for potential reuse or potential deconstruction and assure that available properties are listed on the CERC SiteFinder Inventory and other appropriate locations.

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Minutes - Executive Committee
Wednesday, August 20, 2014
@ NW CT Chamber of Commerce
Attendance: Bill Baxter, Elinor Carbone, David Dean, Rick Lynn, Doug Parker, Leo Paul, Jr., JoAnn Ryan, Erin Wilson, Don Stein, Sabrina Beck, Dick Labich, Pat Mechare, Ned Moore

I. Update CEDS/EDD/Brownfields
Guest: Ned Moore, DECD (Economic Development Agent, Office of Brownfield Remediation & Development, CT Dept. of Community & Economic Dev.)

Ned has been working with Doug and Jocelyn to navigate the process for CEDS approval and EDD status. OPM and DECD have both approved the NW CT CEDS and substantiate that it complies with the state's plan of conservation and development and the state's economic development plan. The next steps are the governor's signature and a request to the EDA (U.S. Dept. of Commerce, Economic Development Administration) for recognition as an Economic Development District (EDD).

Motion: Leo Paul, Jr. made a motion seconded by David Dean to authorize the President/Executive Director of the NW CT Economic Development Corporation to request EDD status. After brief discussion, the motion was approved unanimously.

Ned provided an overview of DECD efforts to remediate brownfield sites throughout Connecticut. Developers and municipalities have applied for low interest (3%) loans and grants to remediate former industrial sites for reuse. Requests including end-users and private developers are strongly positioned for acceptance. DEEP Assessment grants are also available in determining the extent of the cleanup required to remediate sites for reuse by developers and communities. DECD works closely with the CT Dept. of Energy & Environmental Protection (DEEP). Ned suggested a regional brownfields inventory identifying sites in NW CT.

The state has increased the amount of funding available for brownfield remediation from about $2 million per year to over $20 million per year over the past few years. Recently fifth round 41 applications were received for requests totaling over $75 million. Requests that are "ready to go" or "shovel ready" and include private funding partners will receive higher priority.

Doug indicated that a regional (NW CT) brownfields inventory had been created by Arthur Bogen (Down to Earth Consulting) with support from a grant by CL&P. Both Torrington and Winchester officials have been using the inventory extensively in identifying sites for assessment and remediation. Both municipalities have revolving loan funds (RLF) available to assist developers.

II. Task Team Updates
Commercial Properties: David Dean
1.  David suggested a specific site in Winchester that is a prime property for commercial development. He indicated it is the type of property that could attract developers to the region.
2.  Don Stein indicated concern for promoting one property and suggested as a regional organization we should not identify favored properties for development.
3. Doug reported that he and David Dean met with Mark McEachern (Torrington Historical Society) and Ed Cook (Torrington Historic Preservation Trust). Doug suggested to Mark and Ed that they develop a rubric to assess potential projects using the following criteria: historical value, structural integrity, potential cost for remediation (brownfield sites), potential cost to preserve the site/building(s). He also suggested that it is probably not realistic to save every former industrial site and selecting up to three sites of high priority would be more practical.

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NWCTEDC Minutes - Executive Committee
Wednesday, June 18, 2014
@ NW CT Chamber of Commerce
Attendance: Jocelyn Ayer, Elinor Carbone, Rich Meinert, Doug Parker, Leo Paul, Jr., JoAnn Ryan

I. Task Team Updates
Commercial Properties: David Dean
1. David Dean was not at the meeting, but indicated via email that a new buyer had purchased the Libby's Furniture building in Torrington.
2. The NW CT Transit facility being planned for Torrington is facing some opposition based on its purported historical value. Those in attendance felt that plenty of time was available to pursue that path since the site had been on the market for a considerable length of time.

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NWCTEDC Minutes -Board of Directors
Tuesday, November 19, 2013
@ NW CT Chamber of Commerce
Attendance: Susan Clayton, Patricia Mechare, Doug Parker, Lauren Smith, Sharon Waagner, Fran Delaney, Anthea Disney, William Baxter, David Dean, Ted Murphy, JoAnn Ryan, Rich Minert, Joann Brogis, Jocelyn Ayer, Frank Chiaramonte, Leona LeJeune, John Maxwell, Richard Labich, Bill Burgess, Lew Chappel, Fiona de Merell, Lou Helt, Rick Lynn, Stephen Silver, Larry Sweeney, Susan Dichter, Rob Michalik

II. Task Team Reports
C.    Commercial Properties, Brownfields & Construction- David Dean
- Lots of opportunities in this region, there is a large need for 3,000-15,000 square foot space for industrial/commercial use.  
- Some problems we're facing now are infrastructure and financing, due to high fees and taxes.  

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NWCTEDC Minutes -Executive Committee
Tuesday, August 20, 2013
@ NW CT Chamber of Commerce
Attendance: Bill Baxter, David Dean, Lou Helt, Doug Parker, Rich Minert, Rick Lynn, Leo Paul, Pat Power, Lew Chappell, Sherri Dadomo

3. Task Team Updates
Commercial Property, Construction & Brownfields Task Team- David Dean gave the update and said the committee has met a few times.  Rose Ponte and David are working together and are trying to determine the best way to provide information about commercial properties in the NW CT region.

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NWCTEDC Minutes -Executive Committee
Tuesday, June 18, 2013
@ NW CT Chamber of Commerce
Attendance: JoAnn Ryan, Lauren Smith, Bill Baxter, Lew Chappel, Rose Ponte, Leo Paul, Doug Parker, Lou Helt, Domenic Carazza, Rick Lynn, Rich Minert, David Dean, Jocelyn Ayer

II. Task Team Reports
C.  Commercial Properties, Brownfields & Construction
1.     Rose Ponte and David Dean gave the update.
2.     Arthur Bogen is working on identifying brownfields in Litchfield County and creating a database of them.
3.     They've spoken with Mark Greenberg who reiterated developers work for money and we need to figure out how to bring them here.
4.     Rose suggested www.siteselection.com as a good tool for economic development.

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NWCTEDC Minutes -Executive Committee
Tuesday, April 16, 2013
@ NW CT Chamber of Commerce
Attendance: Doug Parker, Lauren Smith, Sharon Waagner, Dan McGuiness, Dale Martin, Rick Lynn, David Dean, JoAnn Ryan

Commercial Properties, Brownfields, Construction Task Team
Task Team Leaders are David Dean & Rose Ponte. The Task Team will meet for the first time on Friday, April 19th to discuss the following issues:

A. Commercial Properties - Guiding Questions
1.     What are the major strengths?
2.     What are the major challenges?
3.     How can potentials buyers learn about available commercial properties?
4.     How can commercial properties be marketed?
5.     What is the target audience for marketing commercial properties?
6.     Should commercial properties be analyzed to determine potential best uses?
7.     What factors should be considered when analyzing commercial properties?
8.     What role should NW CT EDC play in marketing commercial properties?
9.     Should NW CT EDC maintain an inventory of currently available commercial properties?
10.   What costs will be involved with maintaining a current and accurate listing of commercial properties?

B. Brownfields Properties - Guiding Questions
1.     What is the best way to identify brownfield sites?
2.     How can brownfield sites be remediated?
3.     Who determines the value of brownfield sites?
4.     What is the most effective way to reuse brownfield sites?
5.     What resources are available to help remediate brownfield sites?
6.     What role should NW CT EDC play in marketing brownfield sites?
7.     Should brownfield sites be evaluated to determine potential best reuses?
8.     What criteria should be used to assess brownfield sites for reuse?

C. Construction - Guiding Questions
1.     What are the major strengths?
2.     What are the major challenges?
3.     Should new development projects be encouraged for NW CT?
4.     Should NW CT EDC identify potential development projects for the region?
5.     How can NW CT EDC identify the need for potential development projects?

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NWCTEDC Minutes - Board of Directors
Thursday, March 31, 2011
@ Winchester Town Hall
Attendance: Susie Clayton, David Dean, Fran Delaney, Lou Helt, Michael Menard, John Morici, Don Stein and Doug Parker  Guests: Gina Scherbner, Larry Sweeney, Bill Pratt, Arthur Bogen, Ann Catino, Fred Newman, Kelly Sullivan, Michael Morin, Pam Banks and Bob Simmons

I. Remediating & Redeveloping Brownfield Sites
Guest speaker: Arthur Bogen (Down to Earth Consulting)

Plan of Conservation & Development
Remediating and redeveloping brownfield sites is consistent with the state's plan of conservation and development. Smart Growth/Responsible Growth principles place a high priority on brownfields reuse to prevent sprawl into suburban and rural areas. Preserving open space and existing farmland is usually a high priority for local communities. Redeveloping sites in urban areas with existing infrastructure prevents sprawl.

What are brownfields?
"Disadvantaged economic development sites" characterized as underused industrial/commercial properties with environmental issues which are costly to clean.

What caused brownfields?
Brownfields are remnants of the "Industrial Revolution" when factories and mills were built near rivers and streams. Many of the factories were focused on production with little attention paid to the effect of the manufacturing processes on the soil and water. Metallic particles, petroleum based products and chemicals used in manufacturing are the most frequently identified pollutants identified on brownfield sites.

How are brownfields identified?
The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) at the federal level has established "defined remedial standards" based on the extent of the site's contamination. A system of assessments has been established including: Phase I - history of site, spills, areas of concern; Phase II - soil samples, water samples, test drillings, determining size of the problem; and Phase III - detailed description of all environmental issues. Assessments are conducted by certified and licensed professionals.

Remediation process
The NW CT Economic Development Corporation hired Arthur Bogen (Down to Earth Consulting) to create a regional brownfields inventory in 2008 through a grant from Northeast Utilities (CL&P & Yankee Gas). Creating a regional brownfield inventory can be challenging since property owners are very reluctant to have their sites publically identified as contaminated or polluted. It also puts property owners at increased risk of intervention from the EPA or DEP. Ideally the inventory will be updated in a systematic manner to add new sites as they become identified and to reclassify sites that are remediated. Owner cooperation is critical to identifying and addressing the issues on these sites.

Working with municipalities
Arthur has been working closely with municipal officials in the region to assist in identifying and prioritizing sites based on location, end-use and remediation cost estimates. Once end-uses have been identified and supported by local communities, grants will be sought to remediate these environmentally sensitive sites.

Cost of remediation
The value of a brownfield site is often "inverted" meaning that the cost of the clean-up is higher than the current value of the property. Grants and loans are frequently needed to assist in the remediation process. Brownfields Revolving Loan Funds (BRLF) are granted by the EPA to assist municipalities in remediation.  Torrington was awarded a $1,000,000 BRLF and Winchester was awarded a $600,000 BRLF. Winchester is seeking an extension of their BRLF which was originally awarded in February 2001 and was due to expire in February 2011, a temporary extension was granted until May 20, 2011.

Grants can be awarded to non-profits and/or municipalities. Loans can be provided to private developers as well as non-profits and/or municipalities. Up to 40% of clean-up costs can be awarded via a grant. Up to 60% of clean-up costs can be awarded via a loan. A minimum of 20% is necessary to match the grant or loan.

Owner liability
Owner of property when contaminated is liable for remediating environmental issues. When property is purchased or transferred, the liability frequently becomes the responsibility of the new owner. There are exceptions where liability is still the responsibility of the original owner.

II. Legal Issues
Guest speaker: Ann M. Catino (Attorney at Law, Halloran & Sage LLP)

Ann (currently co-chair of the General Assembly's workgroup on Brownfields Redevelopment)
is an environmental attorney with over 20 years experience working with brownfield issues.
She has been involved in multiple workgroups with Governor Rell and the General Assembly to examine regulations, funding and barriers to remediating sites with environmental issues.

Potential changes at state & federal levels
The workgroups include participation from DEP, DECD, OPM and CDA. The workgroups have focused on these major issues:

1.    Organizational Issues - role of various agencies - leading or supporting
State DECD is working to streamline process to provide one point of entry to manage brownfield remediation process and to assist with grant writing, state and federal fund management

2.   Program/Regulatory Issues - identifying roadblocks to site clean-up
Amending Transfer Act: - goal is to release liability to municipalities and economic development corporations including "Covenant not to sue" municipalities and economic development corporations. This would minimize the risk for new owners acquiring a brownfield property via the transfer act. Recommend modifying EPA & DEP regulations to encourage more remediation efforts including ABCP - Abandoned Building Cleanup Program (DECD) - agreements with DEP

3.   Funding - identifying and administering funding sources for site clean-up
State is seeking increased funding for remediation of priority sites. Priority sites have a specifically identified end use linked directly to measurable economic development results. Ann identified the Commerce Committee as the prime drivers of regulatory reform at the state level

Currently DECD is funding up to six projects per year with a state-wide limit of $4,500,000. Efforts are being made to increase that annual amount. House Bill 6526 addresses many of the issues related to brownfields including modified provisions for new buyers and owners. Twenty brownfield sites (state-wide) would be identified each year for remediation. Criteria would prioritize projects based on smart growth principles, job creation and impact on the local municipal tax base.

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 NW CT EDC
Minutes - Executive Committee
Thursday, August 18, 2011
NW CT Chamber of Commerce
Attendance: Allan Borghesi, JoAnn Ryan, Rose Ponte, Bill Baxter, Dan McGuinness, Rick Lynn Leo Paul, Jr., Chris Wood, Dale Martin, Mark Waterhouse and Doug Parker
Guests: Amy Lopez, Cowlis Andrews and Mark Hood from DECD

II. DECD Outreach
DECD guest speakers: Amy Lopez, Cowlis Andrews and Mark Hood

Amy Lopez, Cowlis Andrews and Mark Hood discussed aspects of CEDS, Brownfields and Permitting. A. Lopez and C. Andrews introduced services provided for economic development and indicated the Agency's mission at this time is geared toward job creation and retention through various services such as financing, tax credits and incentives, export assistance and site selection services. Requests for DECD assistance must be project specific and include job creation.

Permitting was discussed next.  M. Hood explained that the Office of the Permit Ombudsman communicates with other state agencies to streamline the process in addition to placing projects awaiting permits at the top of the list for approval.  He also mentioned the criteria for expediting the permitting process pursuant to PA 10-158, including the promotion of green jobs, creation of over 150 jobs and Brownfields.  An NWCTEDC member mentioned a specific project as an example pertaining to permitting although it appeared the issue was related to the Conservation and Development Plan.  C. Andrews later indicated if there are issues with the Plan, a meeting with OPM may be facilitated as long as jobs are being created.

A. Lopez presented information regarding CEDS specifically that DECD encourages a regional approach to economic development pursuant to PA 10-168 which establishes 8 regions within the state that shall prepare and approve a CEDS.  In addition, DECD's expectations for the regions include ranking and prioritization of projects which will have the largest impact within each region.  Per EDA, annual updates to individual CEDS is required and is one component that will assist EDA in approving region's for EDD status.  Meeting minutes are another component in which EDA is requiring.  Therefore, it's best to compile minutes in advance for submission.  In closing, A. Lopez mentioned that achieving EDD status empowers regions to plan and implement regional economic development and will ultimately assist regions in obtaining future EDA funding.

Lastly, various programs were discussed to promote support for assessment and remediation of statewide Brownfields.  C. Andrews mentioned the Abandoned Brownfields Cleanup (ABC) and Special Contaminated Properties Remediation and Insurance Fund (SCPIRIF) Programs as two services providing assistance to municipalities, developers or owners of Phase II/III properties involving demolition and remedial action activities.  Public Act 11-141 was referenced by C. Andrews, specifically Section 17 which certifies an owner is relieved of liability for contamination located off site.  Allan Borghesi, Chairman of NWCTEDC and of Borghesi Engineering and Construction expressed he has completely avoided purchasing properties due to liability concerns involving contamination.                 

Amy Lopez
Department of Economic and Community Development
Office of Responsible Development, 2nd Floor
505 Hudson Street
Hartford, CT 06106
Email: amy.lopez@ct.gov
Phone: (860) 270-8226
Fax: (860) 706-5740

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 NW CT EDC
Minutes - Executive Committee
Thursday, April 21, 2011
NW CT Chamber of Commerce
Attendance: Allan Borghesi, JoAnn Ryan, Rose Ponte, Bill Baxter, Bob Axelrod, David Dean, Dan McGuinness, Rick Lynn and Doug Parker Guests: Vance Taylor, Alex Garmon, Dale Martin, Fran Delaney

Meeting was called to order at 8:05 a.m. by Doug Parker.

Torrington Updates
Rose Ponte, Torrington Economic Development Director
Torrington is continuing efforts to remediate and redevelop existing brownfield sites. Six brownfield properties are currently undergoing phase I & II assessments utilizing grants obtained from DEP & EPA. A "Developer's Night" is being planned for June to encourage potential end-users to take advantage of the (BRLF) Brownfields Revolving Loan Fund ($1,000,000).

Several small manufacturers started operations in the city and a "Power Yoga" company is beginning a new business. The Torrington Development Corporation (TDC) is working closely with the new Torrington Downtown Partners to revitalize the business community in downtown Torrington. "Main Street Marketplace" was very successful last year including special recognition from CERC. Plans are underway to create a "bigger and better" experience this year beginning on Thursday, June 30th (5-9 pm) and continuing until August 24th. The Arts & Culture Commission led by Steve Criss of the Warner Theater is pursuing grant opportunities to help fund this venture. Torrington will host the CT Main Street Awards at the Warner Theater including a presentation about Torrington's "Main Street Marketplace" program.

Rick Lynn, Planning Director - Litchfield Hills Council of Elected Officials
Rick reminded everyone of opportunities through the BEEP (Business Energy Efficiency Program) to provide financial support for businesses improving energy efficiency. Information is available at www.nwctedc.com (regional docs).

Bill Baxter, Executive Director - Torrington Development Corporation (TDC)
The TDC approved phase I of the plans submitted by the Torrington Downtown Partnership to provide a mixture of retail and residential spaces in the downtown area. TDC is working closely with the downtown partners, UConn, and the Torrington Arts & Culture Commission to create an enticing environment for businesses associated with arts and culture. Bill has attended several conferences and workshops centered on "What Makes Cities Work" to learn from the experiences of other communities in revitalizing city centers.

Winchester Updates
Dale Martin was recently hired as the new Town Manager in Winchester. He was welcomed by everyone at the meeting. Fran Delaney, head of the "Main Street" program in Winchester also was in attendance.

Arthur Bogen (Down to Earth Consulting) was not able to attend, but forwarded the following update:

"As to the significant progress made by the City (of Winchester) on their Brownfields Revolving Loan Fund (BRLF)" -

-  The grant agreement has been approved by both the City and the WHA Development Corporation.
-  EPA has approved both the WHA Development Corporation and the sites on Gay Street for a grant.
-  EPA permitted the BRLF to be extended to May 20, 2011
-  The WHA DC anticipates receiving letters of commitment from other funding sources that should enable the project to move forward.
-  The Winchester Economic Development Commission met and provided comments to a draft Evaluation Criteria for selecting projects to receive future loans and grants - that criteria will be recommended to the Selectmen to vote on shortly.
-  Some Commission members will contact other potential borrowers to support the next project.

We look forward to providing your group with further updates as we continue to move forward. Thanks again for your interest and support.

Arthur Bogen, President
Down To Earth Consulting, LLC
728 A Heritage Village
Southbury, CT 06488
V - 203.405.3291
F - 203.405.3292
www.downtoearthconsulting.com

Son Chief Property in Winchester
Letter distributed by Vance Taylor at the meeting:

Dear Doug, JoAnn and members of the Executive Committee:

I wish to request your consideration of receiving the Son Chief real estate gift offered to you by the Fitzgerald family. I've read and copied that portion of your previous Board minutes as a means to review and then explain some of the legitimate concerns raised during that discussion:

"Doug Parker discussed a proposal from the current owners of the Son Chief Property in Winchester to work with the NW CT Economic Development Corporation. After a lengthy discussion no action was taken. Concerns about financial support, liability and project management limit the ability of NWCTEDC to move forward in supporting this project at this time." NWCTEDC BOD Meeting Minutes 3-31-11

As you know, the property has been listed for sale at $795,000; this figure was based on the property's current net operating income of approximately $55,000 annually, and assuming an investor would seek at least a 7%.  This "profit" figure of $55,000 accounts for all building operating expenses, including real estate taxes, maintenance personnel, and general repairs and maintenance, but does not include property management.  The figure, however, contains no reserve for capital improvements, such as roof repair or replacement and related "big ticket" items.  Unlike the mostly vacant Nidec property or the completely vacant Torrington Company Bearings Test Lab which the EDC had hoped to acquire years ago, the Son Chief building is home to 18 small and medium sized businesses, accounting for approximately 60% of the total square footage.  The EDC, therefore, could reasonably project a Net Operating Income of $100,000 when achieving a 90% occupancy. From that $100,000, you could readily hire a full-time EDC and Chamber staff person to manage this property and further, to coordinate economic development activities for the region, partnering with municipal economic development directors and commissions.  A portion of these revenues could also annually be set aside for capital repairs and replacements as well as clean-up dollars to match the Winchester Brownfields Loan/Grant.  Bear in mind that a non-profit would be eligible for a grant of up to $200,000 in remediation funds from the Town, and up to an additional $200,000 grant directly from EPA Region 1 in Boston, for a possible total of $400,000.  Phase I and Phase II environmental assessments have estimated total cleanup in the range of $500,000, and hence, the remaining $100,000 could be funded through the annual property income over a multi-year period.

I therefore believe that the concerns raised regarding "financial support, liability and project management" can also be reasonably addressed given the present and projected income stream of the property.  Further, this strategy can be the means for the EDC and Chamber to hire a full-time economic development staff person, which I know has been a long-standing desire of both organizations in our efforts to aggressively promote the benefits of Northwest Connecticut to present and prospective employers.  Finally, the establishment of an incubator would bring our region into alignment with other parts of Connecticut where incubators are already operating, and would provide a means to cultivate small, high-tech and growth-oriented companies to start and stay in our area.

Incubators do work, and companies that "fly the coop" typically end up relocating to their own buildings and often construct facilities in industrial parks, as history has shown elsewhere.  We have reasonably good industrial inventory, both building and land, so why not help companies get started and grow in Northwest Connecticut?

Please give serious consideration to the possibility of accepting the Son Chief gift.  Naturally, I am committed to this proposal and available to offer my assistance in making the Northwest Connecticut Business Incubator a reality.

Thanks again!
Cordially,
Vance A. Taylor

Property Flyer
41-43 MEADOW STREET, WINSTED, CT
+/-110,000 SQUARE FOOT INDUSTRIAL COMPLEX ON +/-4 ACRES
$795,000
The Son Chief property is currently home to 20 tenants, together occupying roughly 75% of the total square footage, and producing gross income of nearly $200,000/year; NOI is estimated to be $60,000. Excellent redevelopment opportunity with strong current income stream.  All municipal utilities with direct access to US Route 44 & CT Route 8 in downtown Winsted.  Possible first mortgage owner financing to qualified buyer


Vance also suggested other potential partnerships with NWCC, SCORE and SBA. He also cited other projects around the state developed by other economic development corporations.

Bob Axelrod stated strong opposition reiterating the concerns over liability as well as the lack of financial and staffing resources. He stated the NWCTEDC needs to determine if it wants to own and manage commercial properties.

Rose Ponte suggested forming a task team to gather more information about other economic development corporations managing projects similar to the Son Chief property. Rose Ponte, JoAnn Ryan, Bill Baxter, Dan McGuinness and Doug Parker all agreed to serve on the task team. JoAnn suggested John O'Toole as an addition to the task team, she will contact John. Doug will work with Ned Moore at DECD and the task team to gather more information about the roles of other economic development corporations in CT.

Meeting was adjourned at 9:40 am.

Regards,
Doug Parker
President/Executive Director
www.nwctedc.com
info@nwctedc.com
(860) 567-2204

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NWCTEDC
Minutes - Board of Directors
Thursday, March 31, 2011
@ Winchester Town Hall
Attendance: Susie Clayton, David Dean, Fran Delaney, Lou Helt, Michael Menard, John Morici, Don Stein and Doug Parker  Guests: Gina Scherbner, Larry Sweeney, Bill Pratt, Arthur Bogen, Ann Catino, Fred Newman, Kelly Sullivan, Michael Morin, Pam Banks and Bob Simmons

The meeting was called to order at 9:05 am by Doug Parker

I. Remediating & Redeveloping Brownfield Sites
Guest speaker: Arthur Bogen (Down to Earth Consulting)

Plan of Conservation & Development
Remediating and redeveloping brownfield sites is consistent with the state's plan of conservation and development. Smart Growth/Responsible Growth principles place a high priority on brownfields reuse to prevent sprawl into suburban and rural areas. Preserving open space and existing farmland is usually a high priority for local communities. Redeveloping sites in urban areas with existing infrastructure prevents sprawl.

What are brownfields?
"Disadvantaged economic development sites" characterized as underused industrial/commercial properties with environmental issues which are costly to clean.

What caused brownfields?
Brownfields are remnants of the "Industrial Revolution" when factories and mills were built near rivers and streams. Many of the factories were focused on production with little attention paid to the effect of the manufacturing processes on the soil and water. Metallic particles, petroleum based products and chemicals used in manufacturing are the most frequently identified pollutants identified on brownfield sites.

How are brownfields identified?
The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) at the federal level has established "defined remedial standards" based on the extent of the site's contamination. A system of assessments has been established including: Phase I - history of site, spills, areas of concern; Phase II - soil samples, water samples, test drillings, determining size of the problem; and Phase III - detailed description of all environmental issues. Assessments are conducted by certified and licensed professionals.

Remediation process
The NW CT Economic Development Corporation hired Arthur Bogen (Down to Earth Consulting) to create a regional brownfields inventory in 2008 through a grant from Northeast Utilities (CL&P & Yankee Gas). Creating a regional brownfield inventory can be challenging since property owners are very reluctant to have their sites publically identified as contaminated or polluted. It also puts property owners at increased risk of intervention from the EPA or DEP. Ideally the inventory will be updated in a systematic manner to add new sites as they become identified and to reclassify sites that are remediated. Owner cooperation is critical to identifying and addressing the issues on these sites.

Working with municipalities
Arthur has been working closely with municipal officials in the region to assist in identifying and prioritizing sites based on location, end-use and remediation cost estimates. Once end-uses have been identified and supported by local communities, grants will be sought to remediate these environmentally sensitive sites.

Cost of remediation
The value of a brownfield site is often "inverted" meaning that the cost of the clean-up is higher than the current value of the property. Grants and loans are frequently needed to assist in the remediation process. Brownfields Revolving Loan Funds (BRLF) are granted by the EPA to assist municipalities in remediation.  Torrington was awarded a $1,000,000 BRLF and Winchester was awarded a $600,000 BRLF. Winchester is seeking an extension of their BRLF which was originally awarded in February 2001 and was due to expire in February 2011, a temporary extension was granted until May 20, 2011.

Grants can be awarded to non-profits and/or municipalities. Loans can be provided to private developers as well as non-profits and/or municipalities. Up to 40% of clean-up costs can be awarded via a grant. Up to 60% of clean-up costs can be awarded via a loan. A minimum of 20% is necessary to match the grant or loan.

Owner liability
Owner of property when contaminated is liable for remediating environmental issues. When property is purchased or transferred, the liability frequently becomes the responsibility of the new owner. There are exceptions where liability is still the responsibility of the original owner.

II. Legal Issues
Guest speaker: Ann M. Catino (Attorney at Law, Halloran & Sage LLP)

Ann (currently co-chair of the General Assembly's workgroup on Brownfields Redevelopment)
is an environmental attorney with over 20 years experience working with brownfield issues.
She has been involved in multiple workgroups with Governor Rell and the General Assembly to examine regulations, funding and barriers to remediating sites with environmental issues.

Potential changes at state & federal levels
The workgroups include participation from DEP, DECD, OPM and CDA. The workgroups have focused on these major issues:

1.    Organizational Issues - role of various agencies - leading or supporting
State DECD is working to streamline process to provide one point of entry to manage brownfield remediation process and to assist with grant writing, state and federal fund management

2.   Program/Regulatory Issues - identifying roadblocks to site clean-up
Amending Transfer Act: - goal is to release liability to municipalities and economic development corporations including "Covenant not to sue" municipalities and economic development corporations. This would minimize the risk for new owners acquiring a brownfield property via the transfer act. Recommend modifying EPA & DEP regulations to encourage more remediation efforts including ABCP - Abandoned Building Cleanup Program (DECD) - agreements with DEP

3.   Funding - identifying and administering funding sources for site clean-up
State is seeking increased funding for remediation of priority sites. Priority sites have a specifically identified end use linked directly to measurable economic development results. Ann identified the Commerce Committee as the prime drivers of regulatory reform at the state level

Currently DECD is funding up to six projects per year with a state-wide limit of $4,500,000. Efforts are being made to increase that annual amount. House Bill 6526 addresses many of the issues related to brownfields including modified provisions for new buyers and owners. Twenty brownfield sites (state-wide) would be identified each year for remediation. Criteria would prioritize projects based on smart growth principles, job creation and impact on the local municipal tax base.

Meeting was adjourned at 10:30 a.m.

Regards,
Doug Parker
President/Executive Director
www.nwctedc.com
info@nwctedc.com
(860) 567-2204

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NWCTEDC
Minutes - Board of Directors
Wednesday, November 17, 2010
Torrington City Hall
Attendance: Dr. John Norman, Bill Baxter, Susie Clayton, David Dean, Fran Delaney, Lou Helt, Rick Lynn, Dan McGuinness, Dr. Michael Menard, John Morici, Doug Parker, Rose Ponte, Guy Rovezzi, JoAnn Ryan, Win Smith, Dwain Snow, Bob Whelan, Amy Wynn, Vance Taylor, Arthur Bogen, Martin Connor, Ruth Skovron, Leslie Cosgrove, Anthea Disney, Gina Scherbner, Kevin Nelson, Richard Ducci, Bill Battle, Bob Santy (CERC), Melissa Pasquale (CERC), Kristi Sullivan (CERC), Mark Cousineau (CTCIC), Bill Pratt and several other members of the Winchester Economic Development Commission

I. CERC Overview (Melissa Pasquale, CERC)
“The Connecticut Economic Resource Center, Inc. (CERC) is a nonprofit corporation that provides our clients with objective research, marketing and economic development services consistent with our mission of making Connecticut a more competitive business environment.”

Services Provided by CERC:
Research
“Expert researchers who provide current economic data and in-depth analyses”

Products and Reports

Custom Work
Economic and fiscal impact analyses

Strategic Counsel
“Strategic counsel and implementation to exceed communication goals”

Planning: Long and short-term strategies, branding, SWOT, measurement
Creative: Web sites, collateral, advertising, event promotions,
Outreach: PR, media and community relations, social media

Resources
“Comprehensive resources to support business attraction, formation and expansion”

Site Selection: Team New England

II. “10 Things You Need to Know About Economic Development” (CERC President Bob Santy)
What is economic development vs. community development?
Where does real estate development fit in?
How do different audiences perceive development?
What is the role of economic development in the broader regional economy?
What defines the economic future of the region/town?
What are the strengths and weaknesses?
Who are the stakeholders?
What are the needs of local businesses?
How do you communicate about economic development at the local level?
How can we all work together?

III. Open discussion and brainstorming (Kristi Sullivan, CERC)
“How can the real estate community work with the economic developers in this new community and economic development environment?"

Breakout discussions:
Group 1
Revitalized town and city centers
Transportation
Existing infrastructure
Bike trails
Energy
Agriculture
Tourism
Brownfields
Workforce Development
CEDS

Group 2
Fear of change/responsible change
More communication with developers and RE professionals
Show value of change - get larger picture
Regional plan needed
Look at region, responsible change and teamwork

Group 3
Realtors don't know zoning regs/maps/compliance
Provide forum with realtors to educate
Difficulty of understanding zoning/towns aren't same
Lack of incentives, fast track, funnel/one contact
Socialize/network

Group 4
Recognize change - 75% structural impact?
What's needed to balance change in the region
Explore thru surveys/focus groups
Need strong leadership to move forward, know don't know/talk the talk
Not necessarily political, collaborative
Learn from success stories, how to use ideal assets
Understand good match, revitalization experience

IV. CTCIC Overview (Mark Cousineau, CTCIC)
Connecticut Community Investment Corporation (CTCIC) provides 504 loans in collaboration with Small Business Administration (SBA) and regional banks. 504 financing is for “Owner Occupied Commercial Real Estate” and requires as little as 10% buyer equity injection.

CTCIC Presentation

Meeting was adjourned at 10:10 a.m.

Doug Parker
President/Executive Director
(860) 567-2204
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NWCTEDC
Minutes - Board of Directors
Friday, November 6, 2009
NW CT Chamber of Commerce
This meeting was focused on redeveloping existing sites within close proximity of city centers.  Since some of these properties are previous industrial sites, environmental concerns often need to be addressed.  Redeveloping Brownfields is a high priority regional goal.  

Attendance: Doug Parker, Allan Borghesi, Arthur Bogen, JoAnn Ryan, Ryan Bingham, David Dean, Leo Paul, Jr., Bill Baxter, Frank Chiaramonte, Fran Delaney, Ted Murphy, Vance Taylor, Rep, Michelle Cook, Mark Arigoni, John O'Toole, Lou Helt, Vic Muschell, Pat Power, Jeff Graveline, Jennifer Graveline, Win Smith

Ryan Bingham, Mayor of Torrington
Ryan stated that redeveloping and revitalizing the downtown area as well as remediating and redeveloping existing Brownfields sites are high priorities for his administration.  The overall goal is to make placeCityTorrington a better place to live and work.  He and Rose Ponte will be attending the national Brownfields conference in placeCityNew Orleans to learn more about best practices and to learn about successful redevelopment stories from around the country.  He looks forward to continue working with the Torrington Development Corporation, the Chamber, LHCEO and NWCTEDC.

Arthur Bogen (Down to Earth Consulting)
Arthur provided an overview of Brownfields remediation and redevelopment.  He answered four main questions.  What are Brownfields?  (real property, the expansion, redevelopment or reuse of which may be complicated by the presence or potential presence of a hazardous substance, pollutant or contaminant - EPA definition) Why should we remediate these sites?  (generate new taxes and jobs, reduce blight, abate human and ecological health risks, help preserve open and green space, use existing infrastructure) What are economic factors affecting the redevelopment of Brownfields sites?  (undefined risk of liability, cost and time; front end cost and time to define issues; inverted value; tax liability) How can economic development officials support efforts to remediate and redevelop these sites? (advocate public funding for environmental assessments and cleanups; advocate tax credits, forgiveness, grants and other playing field levelers)

YouTube Video Clips -  Arthur Bogen (Down to Earth Consulting)
recorded at NWCTEDC meeting on November 6, 2009


John Collins (VeruTEK)
Unfortunately John was not able to attend due to illness (he got the flu).  Efforts will be made to try and reschedule another visit.

Bill Baxter (Torrington Development Corporation)
Bill provided an update on the Torrington Municipal Development Plan.  He is pleased with the support TDC has received from Mayor Ryan Bingham and all placeCityTorrington officials.  The plan has been endorsed by placeCityTorrington Planning & Zoning, Torrington City Council, Litchfield Hills Council of Elected Officials (LHCEO), NW CT Economic Development Corporation (NWCTEDC) and the CT Department of Economic and Community Development (DECD).  Bill strongly advocates updating the regional Comprehensive Economic Development Strategies (CEDS).  Having a regional CEDS was a major factor in obtaining funding from the state and federal levels.  Bill used a Power Point slide show to provide his overview:

YouTube Video Clips -  Bill Baxter (Torrington Development Corporation)
recorded at NWCTEDC meeting on November 6, 2009

Phase 1 (ongoing)
Survey work completed
Discussions with key stakeholders
Parking status
Options on arrangements
Parking management
DOT trade offs/agreements
Preparation for other pieces of puzzle (2010)
Roadway/takings
Properties
Funding for Acquisition

Grants & Funding Received to date:
DECD @      $504,000 (design and engineering)
City @           $150,000 (since 2004)
$50,000 (escrow)
CDBG @ $235,000 for addressStreetWater Street
Brownfields grant $1,000,000
LHCEO - Federal Transportation Bill (reauthorization)
$17,905,000 - Roadway & Intersection Improvements
$13,524,000 - grant
$3,300,000 - city
Other:
ARRA Transportation Investment Guarantee Economic Recovery  (1.5 billion)
DOT Acquisition Program
EDA ? CEDS
Private/Public Partnership Programs
Greenway/River Reclamation  Grants
ARRA - (TIGER Funds)  CT $630,282,554
Other  (Rabbits in hats)

TDC Goals
Promote economic development
Strengthen the existing mixed uses of downtown
Promote local and regional arts, cultural interests, and tourism
Preserve placeCityTorrington's heritage and unique historic character
Improve pedestrian facilities, traffic circulation, parking and streetscape

Discussion
Save a Historic Downtown
Require a “vision”
Needs resources - $$$/people
Momentum - reverse it
Leadership “tantamount to success”
Political, Business, Personal
Take courage
Requires some risk
Expend “capital”

Other Thoughts
TDC/EDC - don't have all the answers
Open to positive ideas
Consider “thinking outside the box”
It is in our hands!!!

Mark Arigoni (Landscape Architect, working with TDC) provided more details about the plan including landscape architecture, infrastructure upgrades, street lighting, addressing traffic and parking issues and creating a "green" environment in the downtown area.

Regards,
Doug Parker
President/Executive Director
NW CT Economic Development Corporation
(860) 567-2204

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NWCTEDC
Board of Directors
March 6, 2009
Alcoa-Howmet, Winsted
Attendance: Doug Parker, JoAnn Ryan, Bob Axelrod, Lou Helt, David Dean, Rick Lynn, Dan McGuinness, Bill Baxter, Frank Chiaramonte, Chuck Conn, Fran Delaney, Maura Martin, John Maxwell, Michael Menard, John Morici, Ted Murphy, Guy Rovezzi, Dwain Snow, Vance Taylor, Amy Wynn, Chris Vita, Arthur Bogen, Karen Paradis, Michelle Cook, Mike Peacock, Dick Labich, Tom Souchuns, Gary Koeppel, Peter Gutowski, Dawn Mazini, Henry Marchell, Eric Hampton, Bill Pratt, John Lavieri, Sal Galasso, Al Gravel and Allen Rebman

Updates
Regional Brownfields Inventory
Arthur Bogen, NWCTEDC Brownfields Consultant, is nearly finished with the regional brownfields inventory.  There are currently 26 sites included with possibly 3 or 4 more new sites to be added.  The next step will be to prioritize sites based on redevelopment potential and economic benefit.  Grants will then be sought to either further evaluate or rehab sites.  Complete report should be finished by the spring.

Respectfully submitted,
Doug Parker
President/Executive Director
NW CT Economic Development Corporation
www.nwctedc.com
info@nwctedc.com
(860) 567-2204